6th December 2022

Elon Musk, talking through a smartphone that he seemed to be holding in entrance of him, advised Twitter Inc. workers that he needs to dramatically improve the platform’s customers and didn’t rule out layoffs as he works to finish his deliberate $44 billion takeover.

The billionaire serial entrepreneur additionally outlined his ideas on free speech and mentioned the opportunity of alien life, based on workers who participated within the assembly Thursday. His look in the course of the wide-ranging, roughly 45-minute digital gathering marked one other twist in what has been an uncommon takeover bid.

Mr. Musk’s first direct interplay with the social-media firm’s rank-and-file workers adopted weeks by which he publicly criticized Twitter, belittled its prime executives and threatened to stroll away from the deal. Since agreeing to the acquisition in April, he has stated Twitter is simply too reliant on promoting, questioned its estimated tally of faux and spam accounts and tweeted a poop emoji at Twitter Chief Govt Parag Agrawal.

Mr. Agrawal launched the Tesla Inc. CEO on the assembly Thursday, based on the individuals who attended. Mr. Musk was then fed questions by Leslie Berland, Twitter’s chief advertising and marketing officer, that workers had submitted.

Concerning layoffs, Mr. Musk stated anybody who’s a big contributor shouldn’t have something to fret about, based on individuals who considered the assembly. “Proper now, prices exceed income,” he stated, based on the folks. “That’s not a fantastic scenario.”

One worker tweeted: “nonetheless undecided if I would like to begin packing my baggage.”

Like different corporations, Twitter has taken steps not too long ago to rein in prices, together with issuing a hiring freeze, rescinding some job provides and asking workers to curtail enterprise journey and spending. As a part of the cuts, the corporate stated it additionally canceled a companywide journey to Disneyland set for January.

Elon Musk has cultivated shut ties with Beijing to construct Tesla’s enterprise in China. Now that he’s shopping for Twitter and specializing in free speech, WSJ appears to be like at how China has used the social-media platform to advertise its views, and why that’s elevating considerations. Photograph Illustration: Sharon Shi

When requested about what he would contemplate profitable for Twitter 5 to 10 years from now, Mr. Musk stated a considerable improve in day by day energetic customers to over a billion from round 229 million at this time. He additionally stated in the course of the assembly that Twitter ought to be entertaining, like TikTok, and that he admired the Chinese language app WeChat, which is used closely in China for a spread of functions together with e-commerce and social networking.

Mr. Musk stated that he learns a lot from what he reads on Twitter and that it’s the greatest technique to talk with lots of people concurrently, based on folks aware of the assembly.

Requested about his stance on free speech, Mr. Musk drew a distinction between freedom of speech and freedom of attain, based on attendees. He stated that meant folks ought to be allowed to say fairly outrageous issues inside the legislation however didn’t essentially should have their tweets amplified and unfold virally throughout Twitter.

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On whether or not he would develop into CEO of the social-media firm, Mr. Musk stated he isn’t hung up on titles. He went on to debate his imaginative and prescient to increase the scope, scale and lifespan of civilization as we all know it, based on an individual who considered the assembly.

Mr. Musk additionally briefly touched on the prospects of alien life. “I’ve seen no precise proof for aliens…but,” he advised workers, individuals who attended the assembly stated.

Ms. Berland raised the topic of distant work, which Mr. Musk has criticized on Twitter. About 1,500 of Twitter’s workers work remotely, she stated within the assembly. Twitter beforehand introduced a plan to permit workers to work remotely indefinitely if it helped them be extra productive.

Mr. Musk responded that the work of constructing vehicles at electric-vehicle maker Tesla, the place he’s chief government, can’t be carried out remotely.

“If somebody can solely work remotely, they usually’re distinctive, it wouldn’t make sense to fireplace them,” he stated, based on the individuals who considered the assembly. “Undoubtedly not in favor of issues which can be mad.” He added that his bias is strongly for working in particular person however that managers can determine which of their workers can work remotely, as is the apply at Tesla.

Quickly after Mr. Musk’s feedback, some workers publicly tweeted jokes and memes about easy methods to convey that they have been distinctive employees. One worker tweeted: “including distinctive contributor to my CV.”

In response to a query about how workers and Mr. Musk can earn one another’s belief, Mr. Musk stated, “Belief is as belief does. I are typically extraordinarily literal in what I say.”

Twitter is aiming to schedule a shareholder vote on the takeover deal later this summer time and shut it quickly thereafter, barring unexpected developments. Mr. Musk stated he would return for an additional question-and-answer session, attendees stated.

Manu Cornet, an engineer at Twitter, poked enjoyable on the all-hands assembly with a cartoon he tweeted Thursday, suggesting that particulars of the session could be leaked.

Mr. Musk has stored Twitter workers and Wall Road on edge as as to whether he’ll observe via with the transaction. Final week, he threatened to terminate it in a letter accusing the corporate of not complying along with his request for information. Twitter stated on the time that it was persevering with to share info with Mr. Musk and that it deliberate to implement the merger settlement.

Mr. Musk agreed to pay $54.20 a share for Twitter. The corporate’s share worth has since fallen amid broader market declines, closing Thursday at $37.36.

Write to Deepa Seetharaman at Deepa.Seetharaman@wsj.com and Sarah E. Needleman at sarah.needleman@wsj.com

Elon Musk and Twitter

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